Friday, August 27, 2004

U.S. Cumpulsory Mental Health Screening

Compulsory Mental Health Screening is Coming For Adults and Children Preschool and Up
Sharon Hughes | August 26 2004

There is a new major U.S. mental health initiative on the docket, based on a report of the New Freedom in Mental Health Commission, which recommends mental health screening for adults and children as young as preschool age, in primary care health settings, schools, and correctional facilities. It also includes expanding school-based mental health programs requiring specific treatments for specific conditions, including the use of specific medications.
Despite a growing public opposition to universal mental health screening, states are being encouraged by the federal government to adopt the measure. Last month Illinois bureaucrats began pushing through a plan passed into law by their legislature to screen the mental health of all pregnant women and children up to 18 years of age in their state. The plan also includes discounted psychotropic drugs.
As reported in the Illinois Leader, Larry Trainor, a parent of four children and Illinois contact for the Los Angeles based Citizens Commission on Human Rights, said, "Since psychiatric involvement in education, SAT scores have gone down for the past few decades. Evaluating mental conditions is not based on scientific evidence, it's subjective."
Pulling from the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health's Executive Summary:
In a transformed mental health system, the early detection of mental health problems in children and adults - through routine and comprehensive testing and screening - will be an expected and typical occurrence. At the first sign of difficulties, preventive interventions will be started to keep problems from escalating. For example, a child whose serious emotional disturbance is identified early will receive care, preventing the potential onset of a co-occurring substance use disorder and breaking a cycle that otherwise can lead to school failure and other problems.
Quality screening and early intervention will occur in both readily accessible, low-stigma settings, such as primary health care facilities and schools, and in settings in which a high level of risk exists for mental health problems, such as criminal justice, juvenile justice, and child welfare systems. Both children and adults will be screened for mental illnesses during their routine physical exams.
To aid in transforming the mental health system, the Commission makes four recommendations:
4.1 Promote the mental health of young children.
4.2 Improve and expand school mental health programs.
4.3 Screen for co-occurring mental and substance use disorders and link with integrated treatment strategies.
4.4 Screen for mental disorders in primary health care, across the lifespan, and connect to treatment and supports.
The New York Times reported last week that Dr. Andrew D. Mosholder, a senior epidemiologist at the Food and Drug Administration wrote a memo about a new study which confirms his findings from 22 other studies showing that the use of antidepressants for children is too dangerous because of the suicide risk. However, "his superiors strongly disagreed with his findings, kept his recommendations secret and initiated a new analysis." The New York Times secured a copy of his memo.